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Rep. Joe Kennedy on Boston Public Radio

Rep. Joe Kennedy: Ted Cruz’s Unpopularity Is 'The One Unifier In Washington'

Joe Kennedy
FILE - In this July 25, 2016 file photo, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., son of former Rep. Joseph Kennedy II, speaks during the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Joseph P. "Joe" Kennedy III, son of former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and Sheila Rauch Kennedy, is serving his third term in the U.S. House representing Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
Paul Sancya/AP
Rep. Joe Kennedy on Boston Public Radio

Rep. Joe Kennedy will be hitting the campaign trail for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, who is running in Texas against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

O’Rourke will appear with Kennedy at the McAllen Convention Center on Oct. 13 for what is expected to be O’Rourke’s largest Rio Grande Valley event, but it’s not Kennedy’s first time campaigning for the candidate — Kennedy previously appeared with O’Rourke at events in Houston and West Texas, and even took a turn driving “the Beto Bus” on the campaign.

With less than four weeks to go before election day, a recent Quinnipiac University Poll showed Cruz ahead by 9 percentage points. Yet Kennedy says he’s optimistic, and thinks O’Rourke has bipartisan appeal.

“My sense is that what Beto has tapped into is … there is a hunger and a desire for just somebody that is good and decent running for office,” Kennedy told WGBH News Thursday. “What you have seen from Beto is 100 percent authentic. It is somebody that has confidence in his views, but the humility to listen to others, to try to learn, that has a yearning for the job and a yearning for service, to go into every county across Texas, to walk into diners and just sit down and talk to people, and be willing to engage in a conversation, and in a back and forth.”

Kennedy criticized Sen. Ted Cruz for leading a government shutdown in 2013 over a national healthcare debate.

“It’s not going to be a question of policy, where does he stand on healthcare, or taxes, or climate change, or immigration, but a question of [whether] you want somebody representing you in the United States Senate who is going to recognize their responsibility to listen and hear and elevate the voices of everybody they represent, and not just one that says, 'Hey, Republicans, I can govern for you, and Democrats, I’m not even going to show up,” Kennedy said. “That’s what we’ve seen [with Cruz], if not a lot worse.”

Kennedy says he has seen Republican colleagues offer O’Rourke their support.

“Sen. Cruz’s time in Washington has been guided by personal ambition and not service, and you’ve got the exact opposite in Beto,” Kennedy said. “The number of times that I’ve been on the House floor, and I’ve had Republicans come by, tap Beto on the shoulder and say, 'If you win, I’ll buy you dinner.' If Beto wins, he’s not going to have to pay for a meal for a year in Washington.”

According to Kennedy, Cruz’s unpopularity is “the one unifier that there is in Washington.”

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